Sergeant, U.S. Army
ABOUT THE CASE
While in Afghanistan, surrounded by Taliban, Derrick’s unit was briefed to expect Taliban disguised as civilians infiltrating their lines to better target attacks.
On September 26, 2010, a Soldier notified Derrick that Atta Mohammed had infiltrated their camp - someone the Soldier and Derrick recognized, with “100%” certainty, from the day before when Mohammed was detained on suspicion of transporting weapons and enemy combatants.
In an open area, with an Afghan interpreter and the other Soldier present, Derrick, concerned for American lives, questioned Mohammed. First, Mohammed claimed he was an electrician, then a plumber—but he wasn’t carrying any tools. Mohammed claimed he couldn’t drive—but was carrying car keys. He couldn’t tell a straight story about where he lived, either. The more Mohammed spoke, the more Derrick grew suspicious.
The Afghan interpreter observed Mohammed grow irate – Mohammad’s two companions had left him behind and his cover story was falling apart. Mohammed attempted to grab Derrick’s pistol. Derrick shot and killed Mohammad.
Less than an hour later, as anticipated, Derrick’s unit came under well-aimed enemy fire which obviously benefited from the enemy’s reconnaissance of the unit’s leaders’ locations, vehicles, and defensive positions. However, as a result of Derrick’s actions, the unit was on full alert and no American lives were lost.
Despite a lack of a thorough investigation at the scene and no photographs of the body, Derrick was found guilty of “premeditated murder” based solely on the testimony of an interpreter the Army helped get asylum and a path to American citizenship and one scared Soldier who, initially stated in a sworn statement on the day of the incident that Derrick shot the Taliban during a “struggle” during which the suspect was “swinging his arms” at Derrick. However, after investigators threatened him with being charged as an accessory, he changed his story during the trial.
AFTER THE CONVICTION
Derrick’s was sentenced to life in prison. His conviction was final. All his appeals had been exhausted.
However, United American Patriots (UAP) agreed to support Derrick and a different attorney, Colby Volkey, to take on Derrick's case to continue to fight for justice.
CLEMENCY BOARD HEARING
In April, 2018, with UAP's support, Mr. Vokey presented Derrick's case at a Clemency Board Hearing. As a result, we were able to get Derrick's life sentence reduced to 20-years, after demonstrating that, even if the jury refused to acknowledge Derricks actions were in self-defense, Derrick should have been convicted of manslaughter not "premeditated murder".
This then made Derrick eligible for parole.
PAROLE BOARD HEARING
In February, 2019, again, with the support of UAP, Mr. Vokey presented Derrick's case - this time at a Parole Board Hearing.
There was strong unified, apolitical, bipartisan support at Derrick's Parole Board Hearing. UAP's CEO, LtCol David "Bull" Gurfein represented UAP and testified alongside Congressmen Louis Gomert (R) and Elijah Commings' (D) Chief of Staff along with Derrick's Mother, Renee Meyers.
On March 20, 2019, Derrick was notified fo the results of the parole hearing - Derrick was released on Parole on May 20, 2019.
United American Patriots (UAP) will keep fighting to clear Derrick's name and to have this unjust conviction removed.
Derrick is now working on Capitol Hill as a part of the Congressional Justice for Warriors Caucus.